Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, published on Nov. 24, evoked an experience I had in Tokyo while teaching for the U.S. Department of Defense. Two other teachers and I were invited to judge a speech contest given by the English Club of Waseda University’s Law School. When I learned that 30 members of the club would each deliver the Gettysburg Address, I feared hearing mechanical repetitions of a memorized speech. To my astonishment, all the students expressed the address in an individual, impassioned way.
Because I was far from my Miami home, their fervor stirred my own feelings of true patriotism and love for my country. I had never heard American students deliver that address with such loving intensity. Lincoln’s words were deeply meaningful to those Japanese university students, whose nation, after a devastating war, was struggling to establish individual rights and a democratic society.
Margaret Brown McLaughlin, Miami